How children can develop the right skills to help their digital literacy
Greg O’Connor, Texthelp, Head of Education Asia-Pacific
Today’s students are the first generation to live in two worlds – the one we experience through our senses, and the digital world through our internet connected devices. It’s increased our ability to collaborate from a multitude of locations and share information easily.
But, the pressure is on for educators, from teachers to tutors, to ensure that students have the skills to be good digital citizens so that they can decipher fact from fiction, are aware of scammers and understand what bullying looks like. Critical thinking, online citizenship and managing an online identity are all skills students need to be taught to be successful.
Students today are confronted with information wherever they look and they are constantly searching, sifting, evaluating, applying and producing all the time. By the time students enter the workplace digital environments will be the primary way they interact, share information and create new ideas.
But before we can contemplate digital literacy we need to ensure that students are set up for success and have the skills to understand the content they are being taught. The ability to read is a fundamental building block in a student’s learning journey. But, if students struggle to read they can become unengaged, which slows down their progress.
In fact, 30% of Australian students struggle with school literacy requirements and as a result, kids have fallen behind in their education which has significant long term implications. There are many reasons why a student may be struggling from English as an additional language status, absenteeism, dyslexia and a range of other literacy barriers s that are influencing learning.
But we also know that children are quick to adapt and they have strong preferences for digital and online learning, with accessible digital learning tools becoming increasingly available as opposed to the traditional textbook and pen. Digital learning tools are there to help people process the info properly and give them the right tools to understand information at their own pace.
Tools like literacy support tool Read&Write provide children agency, by accommodating the different ways they can grasp information such as having a word read out loud for them as well as providing the ability to highlight and define words with an image. Giving real-time access to allow any student to process content being presented to them in the classroom – and demonstrate understanding. Once a student can process and grasp information the digital literacy skills will follow.
So as we begin to return to in-person instruction, the imperative is on educators to equip their students with the right tools to understand and also be understood. Although we may be going back into the real world our students need to be given every opportunity so that they can become model digital citizens.